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The foundations for successful cloud migration – Step 1: effective planning

The foundations for successful cloud migration – Step 1: effective planning

Migrating your systems to the cloud needn’t be a stressful process. In the first of a short series, Alex Drake, an Azure architect in Dootrix’s cloud managed services team, explains how to lay the foundations for success. Here he looks at how to run a planning phase to ensure the migration process goes smoothly while preventing possible headaches.

The importance of knowing your destination before you start your cloud migration project

An essential part of planning any journey is knowing what the destination is. Sometimes the destination can be quite broad, such as ‘I fancy going to the Mediterranean this year’; or quite specific, for example ‘I need to be at the Italian restaurant on the High Street at 12.45 for a lunch meeting.’.

Goals for migration projects are normally fairly specific, but there are sometimes criteria that are flexible, while others are immovable.

In any event, it’s crucial to be clear about exactly why you want to migrate to the cloud. Different departments in an organisation may have differing ideas about the move, so it helps to have representatives of each set of stakeholders engaged in the process from the outset. Every department – for instance finance, security, senior management etc – should be represented, and each group’s motivation and goals for the migration should be made explicit.

Technology as both push and pull reasons for migrating to the cloud

Few organisations migrate their IT to the cloud just for the sheer fun of it. They almost always have good reasons. Many are driven by limitations of current technology, for instance:

  • The organisation’s existing IT estate is no longer fit for purpose:
    • Applications are running on old hardware that is no longer supported (so it’s at risk of falling over at any point)
    • Servers are running on an out-of-support OS so are at risk from malware/ ransomware attacks
    • Running out of storage capacity
    • Service interruptions because the platform isn’t resilient enough
    • Backups are failing or there’s a lack of adequate business continuity disaster recovery capability
    • The organisation’s IT infrastructure is sited in a cupboard under the stairs which isn't particularly secure. (This is a real example, not something from one of the Harry Potter books!)
  • Datacentre exit – contract renewal is due and costs are excessive, creating a strong financial incentive to find an alternative
  • Innovation – a product or service is being developed to provide additional capabilities and functionality that cannot easily be achieved on-premises
  • Flexibility and scalability – The business is growing, and IT capacity needs to grow with it; the cloud offers the flexibility needed to expand.

The genius of the cloud is that it provides this flexibility and the ability to scale up and scale down as needed. As businesses make ever greater use of machine learning, being able to pull in additional resources at key phases, such as during training, is essential, while seasonal businesses need to be able to meet demand during peak periods. It also gives organisations access to a wide range of tools, such as AI software, that aren’t available on-premises.

Business and regulatory reasons for migration to the cloud

Sometimes migration to the cloud is driven by business and regulatory considerations. For instance:

  • Financial – the organisation wants to save money
  • Sustainability – as cloud platforms move towards carbon neutrality they can help in meeting CSR goals
  • Compliance – regulatory compliance standards such as ISO 27001, GDPR etc are judged to be easier to achieve by storing data securely in the cloud rather than on-premises (especially where there are stipulations about data being held within particular jurisdictions)
  • Global reach – the organisation is growing and wants to expand its products/ services into new markets

Clear goals inform effective planning

Above all, having a clear idea of the goals for a migration project means that these can be prioritised during the planning phase. So, if budget is the prime constraint, the project is planned with cost as a primary concern. If the key consideration is compliance, legal and security considerations can take precedence. If it’s compute power, then that can be placed top of the list.

This may be the first time your organisation has managed a migration to the cloud. However at Dootrix we help manage them week-in, week-out. We always take time to ensure that we help partners ask all the right questions and plan their migrations carefully before we start delivering their project.

Next, in the second article this series, I’ll look at what to do during the discovery and assessment phase.

Want to lay the foundations for a successful cloud migration? Get in touch

Read all of our successful cloud migration series articles:

2 – Discovery

3 – Defining the migration approach

4 - The Migration Plan